Unfortunately, although unpleasant, billing is part and parcel of running a successful law firm. It’s how you receive payment for your work, take care of office bills, pay your employees, and compensate yourself.
And yet, billing is one of the most dreaded, repetitive, and time-consuming aspects of a lawyer’s job. According to recent research, attorneys record only 2.5 billable hours per day on average, with the rest going towards other non-billable tasks.
These tasks often include preparing invoices, updating trust ledgers, and processing payments. Maximize your firm’s efficiency and save time by following these best billing practices for attorneys.
Adequate billing technology is perhaps the most important piece of the billing puzzle. Automation improves billing efficiency and saves your employees’ time.
Many law firms have inefficient billing practices that leave their lawyers and staff members feeling confused. The best billing technology makes the billing process more straightforward, efficient, user-friendly, and less frustrating.
The right technology simplifies the invoicing process, making it easier to prepare and send invoices to the clients. Before implementing any software, understand the various parts of your billing process, then look for tools that can help you improve them.
Some examples of automation in the billing process include:
Using software like CoraLegal to securely share invoices and other documents with staff members and clients. You could also use it to get critical documents signed and notarized electronically.
Using robust invoice generation software or an accounting system to generate invoices and send constant reminders to the relevant parties
Using time-tracking software to track your time for more accurate billing
While the legal landscape is full of software solutions for virtually everything from billing to depositions, it’s critical for attorneys to choose a system that caters to their particular needs.
One of the e-billing best practices is being timely in your billing.
Organized attorneys bill clients around the same day every month to ensure internal consistency. You can do it too.
Most importantly, aim to have your clients receive their monthly statements at the start of every month. Sending your invoices around this time increases your chances of getting paid early since the bills are hitting around the client’s payday.
Don’t let laziness or procrastination get in your way of sending bills on time. Timely invoices are vital to timely compensation.
Create Concise Bills
Your invoices should be easy to understand, but that doesn’t mean they should lack in detail. Everything you’ve done for the client should be clearly articulated.
When clients receive your invoices, they need to clearly understand every work done on their case to justify the payment. Using software that automatically follows up with clients and coworkers alike regarding review, signatures, and organization allows legal professionals to focus on billable tasks and keep the billing audits regarding each phone call or email to a minimum
An invoice that simply says “telephone call” doesn’t cut it. It’s lacking in context, which can raise questions resulting in delayed payments and a lack of trust and credibility. That said, aim to create invoices that are detailed and concise.
Offer Multiple Payment Options
Last but not least, provide multiple payment options.
It’s no secret that legal services can be expensive.
And just like shopping for anything online, if clients don’t have the option to pay the way they feel most comfortable, they may switch to the competition. The solution? Offer alternatives to standard billing, such as flat fee billing or even a flexible payment plan.
Adopting billing best practices can help save time and increase the efficiency and transparency of your firm’s business. To improve your firm’s billing efficiency, aim to embrace automation fully, be timely in your billing and offer multiple payment options.
It’s rare to find an attorney who enjoys billing, but with these four tips, you’ll find billing a little easier and more engaging.